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Green Freaks

Meet the spineless cacti and Seussian begonias overtaking your ho-hum ferns and ficuses.

Rhipsalis (left)
rhipsalis baccifera
This jagged cactus looks like a cross between a Cy Twombly scribble and a McDonald’s Fry Guy and is one of the heartiest plants around: “They’re real survivors,” says Dig owner Chuck Dorr.
Care: Water it every two weeks, and it can stand any type of light. $35 at Dig, 479 Atlantic Ave., nr. State St., Boerum Hill; 718-554-0207.

Bead Plant
senecio rowelyanus (right)
To give your house just a touch of Grey Gardens disarray, try hanging one of these easy-to-care-for showstoppers by the window or in a pot on top of a bookshelf.
Care: Put it in full light, and water it once every two weeks—the beads hold moisture. From $20 at the Urban Garden Center, 1640 Park Ave., at 116th St.; 646-872-3991.

Baby Toes (left)
“It’s cute as hell,” Urban Garden Center owner Dimitri Gatanas says of the Pinterest favorite that resembles a cluster of little piggies. Fill a small pot with a single bunch, add it to a container with other succulents, or plant several clusters in a windowsill box.
Care: Water it once a month, or less if it’s cool in your apartment. From $5 at the Urban Garden Center.

Pitcher Plant (right)
sarracenia purpurea
This carnivorous cluster of reddish cylinders native to New Jersey creates a sweet nectar to catch bugs. Expect it to be black and dormant during the colder months. Explains Dorr: “It’s saying, ‘I’m kind of tired here.’ ”
Care: Water frequently, and plant in peat moss rather than soil. From $15 at Dig.

Crocodile Fern (left)
microsorum musifolium crocodyllis
The leaves recall crocodile scales, with a rugged texture that means they won’t tear or wilt easily. (Good for a home with roughhousing children.) From the East Indies, this fern started selling here about a decade ago.
Care: You can’t water it enough; it wants to sit in a puddle. From $12 at Dig.

Angel Wing Begonia (right)
begonia aconitifolia hybrid
Fans of Rei Kawakubo and Dr. Seuss will appreciate this begonia’s playful white spots, which range from freckles to larger polka dots. The hybrid, invented in 1926 by a DIY begonia lover from California, flowers throughout the year.
Care: It likes humidity, good air circulation, and lots of water and light. From $8 at Dig.

Marmaduke Begonia (left)
begonia rhizomatous hybrid
Up close, there’s something a little diseased-looking about the chartreuse-speckled begonia. It’s believed that the hybrid varietal, developed by a Logee’s grower about 20 years ago, was named after the gigantic cartoon dog.
Care: Keep it in moderate light. The plant likes low humidity. From $17 at

Warm Hand Cactus (right)
opuntia cochenillifera f. variegata
Some Central American cultures eat this spineless (and prickle-free) cactus, whose flat pads resemble lined, open palms; they believe it decreases inflammation. But “we don’t encourage eating or juicing with it,” says Erin Marino of the Sill.
Care: Lots of sunlight; water infrequently. $38 at

Starfish Cactus (left)
stapelia grandiflora
Beware: Its flowers smell like something is rotting—that’s meant to attract flies. But when the plant is tiny, with blooms the size of a quarter, it won’t stink up the whole apartment if set atop a high shelf.
Care: Keep it sunny and dry, and fertilize it once a month throughout the summer. From $10 at

Butterfly Plant (right)
oxalis triangularis
This bold fascinator’s flowery petals open up in the day and close at night. “In the morning, it kind of greets you,” says Dorr. If you’re a one-plant household, this one makes a great living-room centerpiece.
Care: Keep it moist—water no less than once a week—and give it tons of sun. From $12 at Dig.

Tiger Jaws (left)
faucaria tigrina
With soft white spikes lining the edges of its leaves, Tiger Jaws is a more “Suddenly Seymour”–like alternative to your classic succulent. The plant is from South Africa—it grows in clumps there—and sometimes blooms with yellow flowers.
Care: In the fall, feed it every two weeks with diluted 2-7-7 liquid fertilizer. From $9 at

Culibra (right)
echeveria culibra
It’s the plant world’s embodiment of jolie laide. The curled, pinkish leaves have been compared to “prune-y fingers or the skin of a hairless cat,” Gatanas says. Pot in a cool container, like an old tin or coffee can, or even throw it in a terrarium.
Care: It needs a lot of bright light and only a little water. Soak once a month. From $15 at

Mikado (left)
syngonanthus chrysanthus
This Brazilian swamp plant is one of Sprout Home’s best sellers—maybe because it looks like a hedgehog with antennae. But be prepared for its towering flowers to die off and not grow back.
Care: Keep moist with filtered water. From $9 at Sprout Home, 44 Grand St., nr. Kent Ave., Williamsburg; 718-388-4440.

Sensitive Plant (right)
mimosa pudica
As its name suggests, the sensitive plant actually shirks from human contact; its leaves temporarily fold inward when it feels fingers on it or when it’s shaken. They can grow to be large and will give your room a very ’70s feel.
Care: Put the plant in a sunny spot a few feet from a window, and water when the soil feels slightly moist. From $14 at

Variegated Hindu Rope
hoya carnosa crispa variegata
The white flowers that sprout from this exotic plant smell like coffee and chocolate. Its corkscrew leaves grow in trailing vines (or ropes) and can reach up to eight feet long, ideal for curling over a credenza.
Care: It likes full light. Water once every two weeks. From $12 at